Rabbi Eliyashiv in Critical Condition

The entire Lithuanian Jewish world holds its breath as Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliyashiv, the leader of Lithuanian Jewry, struggles to breathe.

Hana Levi Julian,

Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv
Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv
Israel news photo: courtesy of Beit HaShalom

The entire Lithuanian Jewish world is holding its breath as Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliyashiv, the leader of Lithuanian Jewry - and revered as a Torah sage by religious Jews worldwide - struggles to breathe.

The arbiter of Jewish law for nearly five generations, rushed Sunday to Jerusalem's Sha'are Tzedek Medical Center with shortness of breath, low blood pressure and fading heart function.

But until earlier Monday, he had remained fully conscious -- and then suddenly, a crisis developed and the elderly rabbi's condition rapidly worsened.

Doctors managed revived the rabbi, who has been sedated and placed on a ventilator to help him breathe. He is currently listed in critical condition.

A minyan (quorum of 10) from the rabbi's family has been in the room saying tehillim (psalms).

The rabbi had been hospitalized several times over the past several months.

Nevertheless, despite his frail health, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliyashiv answered Jewish legal questions and participated Tuesday evening in the wedding of his granddaughter in Jerusalem.

He recently also attended a brit mila (circumcision ceremony) in the Israeli capital.

People close to the rabbi ask the public to pray for Rav Yosef Sholom ben Chaya Mousha.